Elevated blood pressure is an asymptomatic health condition that’s also termed a “silent killer”. This storm that hits your body without warning damages the blood vessels and leads to severe health problems.
If you have elevated blood pressure, you may wonder if there is a permanent cure. There is a way to control the condition and bring the numbers down. Making healthy lifestyle choices is the right way to control your blood pressure levels without the need for medication. Leading a healthy lifestyle can reduce, delay or prevent the need for regular medication.
Here are 10 essential lifestyle changes that can lower elevated blood pressure.
- 1 Watch your weight and your waistline.
- 2 Exercise and engage your body
- 3 Make healthy eating a habit.
- 4 Shake out the extra salt
- 5 Pack your diet with Potassium
- 6 Measure your blood pressure
- 7 Cut back on the booze.
- 8 Don’t let your health go up in smoke.
- 9 Don’t stress about stress.
- 10 Hit the snooze button often.
- 11 To sum up
- 12 FAQs
Watch your weight and your waistline.
If you are obese or overweight, you are just adding to the risk of getting high blood pressure. As the scale on your weighing machine tips higher, so do your blood pressure levels. Being overweight can also cause sleep apnea (disrupted breathing while sleeping), which will also cause high blood pressure.
Take care of the size of your waistline, as carrying too much weight around that area can cause high blood pressure. Central obesity or abdominal obesity is a condition where excessive visceral fat develops around the abdomen region due to an unhealthy diet, alcohol use or sedentary lifestyle. So, the next time you feel like binge eating, remember this line – “A moment on the lips, forever on the hips”!
Always monitor your weight regularly and consult your doctor or healthcare professional to help you achieve your ideal weight.
Exercise and engage your body
Feeling too lazy to get off that couch every day? Exercising will not just “happen”. It’s a choice and a commitment you have to make. Physical activity is extremely beneficial to manage your weight, lower stress levels and strengthen your heart.
When it comes to exercising, you have so many options to choose from. If you love the outdoors, take a brisk walk, jog or go cycling to enjoy the sights and sounds all around you. If you are an indoor person, try aerobic exercises, take a dance class or do yoga. Consult with your doctor before taking up any activity if you have any pre-existing health conditions.
Whatever you do, do it in moderation. Mix up different activities like swimming, stretching, hiking or even stair climbing to maintain a good level of heart-healthy fitness levels. Don’t overdo anything because if you injure yourself right at the start, you are less likely to stay motivated. You can also keep it social and engaging by tagging along with your friend or spouse whenever you want to work out.
Make healthy eating a habit.
What you put in your mouth matters to your body. Eating food that is heart-healthy will help reduce blood pressure levels and prevent the risk of a heart attack. Work with your inner “chef” and plan meals that will give you quality nutrition, not just a sense of satisfaction.
Eat a diet that’s rich in:
- Whole grains
- Nuts and legumes
- Low-fat dairy products
- Skinless poultry and fish
Avoid foods like:
- Red meat
- Processed food
- Sodium (salt) and added sugars.
Shake out the extra salt
Most people overeat salt without realising it. Just one salt-heavy meal can make you feel bloated and dehydrated or even trigger headaches. Sodium is important to control and manage fluid balance in our bodies and maintain blood pressure and volume. Incorporating high levels of salt in your food will cause adverse health outcomes like high blood pressure. To avoid eating excessive amounts of salt, be sure to:
- Avoid processed foods
- Cook food at home and avoid dining out
- Use spices and herbs to add flavour to food
- Read food labels while shopping for groceries.
Pack your diet with Potassium
Potassium plays the opposite role of sodium in the body. It helps relax the blood vessels and increases sodium excretion from the body. The more potassium-rich foods you eat, the more sodium is flushed out from your body, which in turn helps to maintain your blood pressure levels.
Foods that are rich in potassium include:
- Leafy greens
- Dates and Raisins.
Measure your blood pressure
It is important to constantly monitor and measure your blood pressure levels to check if your lifestyle changes are working. Talk to your doctor to find out how often you need to check it so that you can prevent complications later.
Another fact that you shouldn’t overlook is the right time to get your blood pressure readings. There are some factors that could affect an accurate reading.
- If you exercised, ate or drank alcohol before taking a reading, it might be higher.
- There are some who experience the “white coat syndrome”. This occurs when they pay a visit to their doctor’s office and don’t get the actual reading due to nervousness or anxiety.
- If you sit with your legs crossed and make your arms drop to the side rather than let them rest on a table, your reading may not be accurate.
Always make sure that you get a precise reading every time. An incorrect low reading will give you a false sense of security about your health. An incorrect high reading will make you take unnecessary medication.
Cut back on the booze.
Consuming too much alcohol can increase your chances of elevating your blood pressure levels. If you are a regular drinker, limit it to 2 drinks if you are a man or one drink if you are a woman.
Unfortunately, there is one popular myth which states that consuming red wine is good for the heart. However, it depends on other lifestyle choices and the moderation in which one drinks it.
If you don’t drink, don’t start. If you love the occasional swigs, consult your doctor to discuss the level of moderation you should follow.
Don’t let your health go up in smoke.
You probably know that smoking is bad for your lungs. But did you know that it causes high blood pressure and heart disease?
The nicotine that is present in the cigarette is the real culprit, as it narrows the walls of your arteries, raises your heart rate and blood pressure and can also cause blood clotting. That’s why your heart is put under a lot of stress and makes it susceptible for you to suffer from a stroke or heart attack.
If you like to light up every now and then, make it your No.1 priority to quit smoking. It will lower the risk of health issues and improve the quality of your life.
Don’t stress about stress.
In today’s fast-paced world, we deal with situations that pose a lot of challenges to us, which are mental, physical and emotional. Managing stress has now become a life skill and also a lifesaver for many. Whether we like to admit it or not, stress affects our health.
When we feel discomfort during a stressful situation, our body releases hormones called cortisol and adrenaline into the blood. These hormones make the body render a “fight or flight” response. Our heart beats faster due to the constriction of blood vessels, which in turn causes our blood pressure to rise.
Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure. We are prone to experience stress in our lives, and it is an inevitable fact. To help combat stress and prevent the adverse effects it causes, try out the following:
- Avoid the trigger points – A looming deadline, rush-hour traffic, and conflict with spouse/kids can trigger stress. Take time to assess such situations and avoid them.
- Don’t try too much – Prioritise what’s important and put away things that can be done later.
- Learn to say no – Everything is not under your control, and you don’t have to agree or say yes to everything just to please people.
- Take time out – Make the time to enjoy activities that you love doing.
The less you sleep, the higher your chances of elevating your blood pressure levels. Getting adequate sleep will help your body control the hormones that regulate metabolism and control stress. Plan your day so that you get at least 6-7 hours of sleep every day.
If you have difficulty falling asleep on time, engage in physical activity, eat 2-3 hours before bedtime and switch off your gadgets before going to bed.
To sum up
Elevated blood pressure has no cure currently. Medications and lifestyle changes can enhance the quality of life and reduce the risk of heart conditions, stroke, renal disorder and more.
It is recommended to consult a doctor for specific advice on how to lower your blood pressure.
How quickly can lifestyle change lower blood pressure?
Regular moderate-intensity exercise helps a person with weight management, which is an important way to control blood pressure. Losing weight can lower blood pressure. It takes about two months for regular exercise and lifestyle changes to have an impact on blood pressure.
How can I naturally lower my blood pressure?
1. Weight management
2. Physical activity
3. Healthy diet
4. Reducing alcohol intake
5. Quit smoking and
6. Reducing stress can help a person naturally lower their blood pressure.
What should be avoided when BP is high?
When BP is high, it is good to stay away from processed food, restaurant food, alcohol and smoking.
Can lack of sleep cause high BP?
Insomnia or lack of sleep can be directly linked to high blood pressure and can cause severe heart diseases. Poor sleep and other unhealthy lifestyle practices can lead to stress and cause high BP.